Overreacting: Women’s 200 Free Decimated By Key Scratches

2021 U.S. OLYMPIC SWIMMING TRIALS

Join us for our daily dose of overreactions from today’s prelims session of U.S. Olympic Trials:

Harting On Pace For Blowup?

Without Michael Phelps in the field, today’s 200 fly heats were very different. They were… faster???

That’s right. Cardinal Aquatics’ Zach Harting went 1:55.34 to lead heats this morning – that’s actually 1.3 seconds faster than anyone (including Phelps) went in heats of 2016 Olympic Trials.

Harting competed in those 2016 Trials, and needed to go just 1:57.9 out of heats to qualify 11th. The then-18-year-old Harting made headlines (and fans) at those Trials by wearing a Batman onesie during the walk-out for the 200 fly final.

That year, Harting held his speed extremely well between rounds. He dropped a full second from heats to semifinals, going 1:56.9, then dropped another 0.07 seconds in the final for another 1:56.9. If we’re going to overreact (and what else are we going to do in this post?), history would suggest Harting is on pace to shatter his career-best and break into the 1:54s tonight and/or tomorrow night.

Madden Locks In

Virginia’s Paige Madden went 3-for-3 in individual NCAA titles this year. And the 22-year-old is having a banner Olympic Trials so far, likely booking her first Olympic berth with a second-place finish in last night’s 400 free.

Between her strong performance last night, a 4th-place showing in 200 free heats this morning, and a slew of key scratches in the 200 (more on that below), Madden is looking more and more locked in as 4×200 free relay leg for Team USA.

The notable scratches – Simone Manuel, Olivia Smoliga, Madisyn Cox, Melanie Margalis, Mallory Comerford, Katie Drabot, Catie DeLoof, Hali Flickinger, Abbey Weitzeil – have opened the door for a number of veterans to potentially grab relay spots in this event. They include Gabby DeLoof and Katie McLaughlin (sitting in the 5th and 6th spots into semifinals), and Brooke Forde (currently sitting 7th).

There’s a clear-cut divide between that group and a bunch of age groupers sitting right behind them heading into semis: Erin Gemmell (16), Bella Sims (16), Claire Tuggle (16), Torri Huske (18), Kayla Wilson (17) and Cavan Gormsen (16).

Manuel Focusing On Speed

Manuel was one of those notable scratches out of the 200. For overreacting purposes, her scratch mostly just means we can’t overreact yet. The 24-year-old Manuel was the #3 seed into the 200 free, and felt almost like a lock for one of the top 6 spots.

But Manuel probably isn’t an individual medal contender at the Olympics in the 200 free without a serious drop. She is, however, the favorite in the 50 free and 100 free after winning Worlds golds in 2019. Manuel’s 200 free scratch suggests she’s going all-in on speed – meaning we might see a new level of speed from her in the 50/100 frees later this week and later this summer.

On the flip side, she’s also got some young challengers in the sprint freestyles. With Torri Huske and Claire Curzan swimming as well as they are (they both knocked off 2016 Olympian Kelsi Dahlia in the 100 fly), Manuel might be hedging against any sort of similar youth movement in the freestyles.

Conger Squeaks By In 200 Fly

2016 Olympian Jack Conger scratched out of the 200 free, the event that earned him his Olympic status in ’16. The idea was that he’d be focusing in on butterfly – but this morning’s 200 fly was a struggle. Conger did go a season-best at 1:58.37, but was well off his career-best of 1:54.4 from the summer of 2017. Conger snuck into the semifinals in 16th, but already sits three full seconds behind the top qualifier.

Conger’s best shot at a return Olympic appearance has always been the 100 fly. (He also bowed out of the 100 free individually). But he’ll need a big improvement from his results this morning to contend with a fly field that only appears to be getting tougher as Michael Andrew swims faster and faster this week.

Foster Gearing Up For 200 Free Final

Speaking of Texas Longhorns like Conger, current Texas standout Carson Foster scratched the 200 fly this morning, going all-in for the 200 free final tonight.

The gambit makes total sense. Foster wasn’t a major 200 fly contender, coming in with the 27th seed pre-meet. He’s one of eight men in tonight’s 200 free final, and Foster only has to beat two other finalists to book a likely Olympic berth as part of the 4×200 free relay.

Foster was the only one of those 8 A finalists with an event this morning, so his scratch levels the playing field some in terms of freshness.

One more Texas-related scratch with some intrigue: 20-year-old Coby Carrozza was the 43rd seed into the 200 fly. He scratched this morning, perhaps with an eye on an unorthodox Olympic berth in an event that’s already been swum. Carrozza is one of the eight U.S. men with a second chance to hit the FINA A standard in the 400 free. Carrozza finished 10th in heats of that race, dropping two seconds from his best time. USA Swimming has announced that Carrozza and the other seven men will be able to time trial the 400 again this week, and the highest-finishing swimmer from the original 400 free who hits an A cut will earn the second U.S. Olympic spot, currently unoccupied as no one made the Olympic qualifying cut.

Baker Off The Pace

Another notable veteran off the mark this morning was Kathleen BakerThe former 100 back world record-holder went out extremely fast in the 100 back semis last night, but fell off the pace and missed the final. She’s still an Olympic contender in the 200 IM and 200 back, but a foot injury she sustained a few weeks ago is clearly affecting her performances.

Baker was five seconds off her lifetime-best this morning in the 200 IM. She qualified 12th and will have another shot in tonight’s semifinals, but she’ll need a huge swim to put herself back into Olympic contention.

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Eagleswim
1 month ago

1:55 was the biggest story of the morning for me… he’s always so fun to watch swim that race because no matter how many races of his I watch I always think he’s out of it at the 100 only for him to go wild on the 3rd or sometimes even 4th 50

bigNowhere
1 month ago

“Conger was the only one of those 8 A finalists with an event this morning” ….

Don’t you mean “Urlando was the only one of those 8 A finalists with an event this morning”

ERVINFORTHEWIN
Reply to  Jared Anderson
1 month ago

feeling for u guys , your team work has been astonishing . Keep it that way 👌

Grant Drukker
1 month ago

Gonna be pretty unfair when Simone can just skip the 200 Free entirely at trials, and then get put on the finals relay at OG.

I get that she is probably one of our top 4 swimmers in the 200 and Greg is the head women’s coach, but to not even swim prelims is pretty unfair.

Swim505
Reply to  Grant Drukker
1 month ago

Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe she has to swim it at trials (even just a prelim) to be able to be on the relay at the Olympics.

P K
Reply to  Swim505
1 month ago

No. Athlete Selection Procedures 1.3.9f gives very broad discretion for selection of relay swimmers (basically anyone who is on the team), so long as a swimmer who is a relay only swimmer has the OST (FINA B Cut) in an event they are selected in, and each relay only swimmer must swim in preliminaries or finals of the relay they are selected in.

Jack
Reply to  Swim505
1 month ago

No, she doesn’t. Phelps didn’t swim the 100 in 2004 and ended up on the relay. Coaches can put any swimmer on the team on the relay as long as all relay-only swimmers get a swim.

Sunny Cal
Reply to  Grant Drukker
1 month ago

They could have Manual and Smoglia swim relay at olympics, and that way only take top 4 swimmers in 200 tonight and that would help with not going over roster numbers by taking Deloof and someone else along, just to swim relay.

Joel Lin
Reply to  Sunny Cal
1 month ago

That’s the wrong way to do it. Take the top 6 finishers at Trials for the relay purpose. If Manuel wanted a piece of the 4×200 she could have swam the event. The process needs to be fair.

Sunny Cal
Reply to  Joel Lin
1 month ago

Not when they have to keep roster at certain #, and they have added 1500 race this OLY.. Especially with so many new people making team ithis time around. Ledecky one of the only girls qualifying in many events, therefore roster numbers add up quickly. Makes no sense to take 2 extra girls who will only swim 200 relay prelim, when they have other very fast girls who could do it, already qualified on team..

Joel Lin
Reply to  Sunny Cal
1 month ago

You make fair points, but I disagree. Phelps set a new standard in 2016 when he skipped the 2 free entirely at Trials. He being Phelps, that was supposed to be an exceptional exception to the process. But there is a process. It’s fair & the same for everyone. It should be the standard that if you don’t put at least a prelims showing in at Trials then you’re foreclosed on the relay for the OG. Hypothetical; if Douglass + Walsh + Manuel + Smoliga + Curzan + Weyant all make the team & then all raise a hand to volunteer to be a prelims 4×200 swimmer based on the argument you’ve narrowed for Manuel, who should be on? They… Read more »

A C
Reply to  Joel Lin
1 month ago

you misunderstand the process — as was already explained to you

ct swim fan
Reply to  Sunny Cal
1 month ago

Lily King and Simone Manuel come to mind as having excellent chances of doubling up.

Ol’ Longhorn
Reply to  Joel Lin
1 month ago

Tell that to Phelps. No 100 free at 2016 OTs, finals relay spot. And he delivered, just like Simone will.

Walter
Reply to  Grant Drukker
1 month ago

Why? If they are faster than others, the slower swimmers should still swim? Participation trophies for all!

Grant Drukker
Reply to  Walter
1 month ago

I mean shouldn’t Simone at least have to prove that she is faster than the other swimmers?

Huske has to prove she is a top 6 200 freestyler by competing in the heats, semis and finals. She had to tax herself with 3 more 200’s than Simone.

They are both going to be competing in the 100. Who is going to have the advantage going into that race now?

Last edited 1 month ago by Grant Drukker
There's no doubt that he's tightening up
Reply to  Walter
1 month ago

Well, we don’t know for sure that Simone is faster than the others do we if she doesn’t swim at trials?

Simone also doesn’t have the Phelps excuse of swimming a billion events.

A C

They race each other at the pre Olympic training camp

CanSwimFan
Reply to  Walter
1 month ago

At Olympics teams have to swim the relay-only swimmers at least in prelims.

50free
Reply to  Walter
1 month ago

Ironic you say that cause she didn’t participate lol

RMS
Reply to  Walter
1 month ago

How do we know? She didn’t swim the race at trials.

Breezeway
Reply to  Grant Drukker
1 month ago

Simone (Smoliga also) knows she is not winning gold in the 200Free. Focus on your best events. It’s up to the US coaches on what medal they want to get in the 4×200 relay

Hemi Life
Reply to  Grant Drukker
1 month ago

Maya DiRado, 2016!!! I want the 4 that give the best chance for Gold.

Last edited 1 month ago by Hemi Life
mds
Reply to  Grant Drukker
1 month ago

Good thing “fair” is not an Olympic event; putting together the fastest relay is.

We’re not talking about putting some one into an individual event they didn’t qualify for. Other than Grothe if no one else makes the OQT, that would not be fair. And even in Grothe’s case, his selection could only come about under at least two circumstances: 1)he has made the “q” time; 2) it only comes into play if someone WHO BEAT HIM IN OUR TRIALS doesn’t also make the time. What would really be goofy, but yet emphasize the primacy of the US trials, would be if one of the others is selected by going a time under the OQT, yet still slower that… Read more »

The unoriginal Tim
Reply to  mds
1 month ago

All other countries allow themselves procedure in their rulebooks to handpick the team. The US trials really is something special in that regard as you have to be 1 or 2. I think the 400 Free this year is the first time that the secpnd place finisher hasn’t had the QT so their is a whole lot of crazy stuff going on with timetrials etc.

You are correct that Thorpe got a DQ at trials and then the selectors put him in anyway and gave the guy who came second a 4×2 relay berth to make up for it.

In 2016 GB infamously didn’t take the 200 IM winner (who had the Fina A cut) and instead took the second… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by The unoriginal Tim
Joel
Reply to  The unoriginal Tim
1 month ago

Except for when you get a days rest and then do a 400 free time trial without morning heats

Swammer2009
1 month ago

I still don’t understand the Simone no show / scratch. She could just pull a Dressel and swim it in prelims to give herself a feel for the water? But I guess it makes it more fun now for viewers… really turning up the hype!

Last edited 1 month ago by Swammer2009
Ghost
Reply to  Swammer2009
1 month ago

She hasn’t swum a 200 in 2 years? There might be a physical reason, a mental issue or she is looking at the other top “sprinters” and they don’t do 200 either.

SwimNC
Reply to  Ghost
1 month ago

Some of the top competition in her primary events (to name a few) are Huske, Curzan, Brown, and Douglass. Huske swam and made it back in the 200 free and 200 IM. Brown swam the 200 free. Douglass had the top prelims swim in the 200 IM. Curzan has already swum the 100 fly 3 times and may swim the 200 back for all we know. I’m sure she has her reasons, but the number of swims her competition will have swum to that point is not a valid excuse.

Virtus
1 month ago

I don’t get why Simone wouldnt at least swim it in prelims, it’s not like she rlly has a packed schedule

Rafael
1 month ago

Off topic: Seems like Poland gave up their women 4×200 relay as Fina site is listing Denmark in now.

Wahoowah
1 month ago

Go Wahoo Olympians! Madden is the epitome of a swimmer who has risen through the ranks and improved year after year. 2 Wahoos in Top 4!

coach
Reply to  Wahoowah
1 month ago

UVA has done a great job taking kids on the National Jr Team to the next level.

MX4x50relay
1 month ago

Decimated just like my pick ems

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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